The Best .17 HMR Rifles Available Today : 2018 Buyer’s Guide

Deciding which .17HMR to purchase is, as with all firearms purchases, a personal decision and needs be done based on the individual’s tastes as well as focus or intent.
Best .17 HMR Rifle - Featured Image

Developed by Hornady ammunition maker in 2002, the .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (HMR) took the target and varmint shooting world by storm by becoming the most aggressive production rimfire commercially available.  It was one of several attempts to produce a rimfire round that could duplicate the performance of the 5mm Remington Rimfire Magnum of the early 1970’s.  While that caliber failed to take root, the intervening decades had many “wildcatters” searching for the affordability of a rimfire with the performance of a centerfire varmint round. 

By necking down a .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire case to accept a lighter, more aerodynamic .17 caliber bullet, Hornady answered the demands of shooters by offering a rimfire bullet that could achieve muzzle velocities of 2650 feet (810 meters) a second.  Speeds usually only reserved for larger cased centerfire rounds.  By doing so, they also made it comparatively easy for any .22 WMR maker to adopt manufacturing the smaller diameter barrel.

Precision shooters and varmint hunters alike looked into this cartridge and even proposed its use for personal defense.  While many of the firearms that are chambered for this round are simply re-barreled versions of the makers’ .22WMR models, others have prepared new designs to help squeeze every ounce of performance out of this zippy little cartridge.

Here are some of the best .17 HMR rifles available today.

Best .17 HMR Rifle Comparison

Rifle

Weight (lbs)

Capacity

Barrel length

Length

6.8

9+1

18"

37"

6.25

11+1

20"

38.5"

3.5

10+1

20"

38.5"

5.85

5+1

20.5"

38.2"

5.5

10+1

21"

39"

6

5+1

21"

39.75"

5.7

10+1

22"

33"

5

10+1

22"

41.5"

7.5

1

24"

40"

Best .17 HMR Rifle Reviews

Savage Arms - A17

Speaking of new designs.  Remington was actually among the first to offer a production line semi-automatic rifle in this caliber and almost immediately issued a recall: the speed of the round frequently caused expanding gasses to escape from the breach when the case was cycled causing the box magazine to be blown out of the rifle.  The quick and cheap solution for Remington was to abandon the .17 HMR and offer a recall to convert the rifles to the .22WMR.  This left many shooters without an affordable option in a self-loading rifle. 

Model-B-Bolt-Action-600x400

Threaded receiver, tight bolt face and Accu Trigger makes for a sold receiver group in the Savage Arms Model B Bolt Action 17 HMR Rifle. (ammoland.com)

In 2017 Savage pioneered a delayed bolt system and offered their model A17. Cautiously shooters waited for the reports to come in and were rewarded by testimonies of the rifle performing very well.  Even without its own branded ammunition, the rifle feeds and cycles virtually every commercially available cartridge.  The delayed blowback action serves precisely as needed, holding just long enough to get the gas to leave the muzzle before the case clears the breech and delivers bolt action like accuracy.  The A17 is available in synthetic black or laminated thumbhole stocks for a more custom looking set up.  This rifle has proven itself one of the only reliable, and to many more importantly the most reasonably priced, self-loading .17HMR rifles on the market today.   


Browning - T-Bolt Sporter

Browning has developed a reputation for building top of the line, quality firearms that have more appeal at the controlled range than slugging it out into the field.  They have a production quality that speaks to refinement and elegance yet have not abandoned functionality in that pursuit.  John M. Browning can be proud of that at least.  The straight pull bolt is not seen often in US markets, or even European ones where the action was pioneered.  Yet the halving of the necessary movements to run it when compared to traditional bolt actions improves the rate of fire noticeably.  Plus, it is actually kinda fun. 

Browning’s action streamlines the cycling process while maintaining the accuracy expected of a traditional bolt action rifle.  Browning’s T-Bolt offers a unique .17 HMR experience with the only straight pull action on the market.  A patented 10 round rotary magazine with the Grade 1 black walnut stock includes sling swivel studs and a plastic butt plate.  The rifle is drilled and tapped for the addition of any number of appropriate scopes.  Finally, the gold-plated trigger has three adjustable settings for completing the custom rifle feel.


Volquartsen Superlite .17HMR

Sharp eyed consumers will see common design parallels between the Volquartsen and the Ruger 10/22.  This company has made a name for itself on the mantra of “build it better,” and has long been offering custom builds of established designs.  Many of these designs are from Ruger, and there is a good reason for that: that company’s designs are over fifty years old and have proven reliability and accuracy.  Volquartsen merely puts customized, upscale quality finishing touches to the designs to further improve performance, and sometimes aesthetics. 

The Superlite is not a flashy looking custom rifle, but it delivers results.  It offers a time proven and tested design with top quality finishing techniques and materials.  The precisely machined aluminum receiver mounts a lightweight THM tension threaded barrel for excellent weight, balance and accuracy.  The over molded Hogue stock ensures a comfortable grip with positive traction.  Integral Picatinny rail is added for any optics desired.  Today, Ruger does not offer the 10/22 rifle platform in anything other than .22 Long Rifle.  For shooters of magnum loads, Volquartsen has become the go to for competitive shooters looking for a high end, semi-automatic rifle that performs.


Ruger American Rifle Magnum

Sharp eyed consumers will see common design parallels between the Volquartsen and the Ruger 10/22.  This company has made a name for itself on the mantra of “build it better,” and has long been offering custom builds of established designs.  Many of these designs are from Ruger, and there is a good reason for that: that company’s designs are over fifty years old and have proven reliability and accuracy.  Volquartsen merely puts customized, upscale quality finishing touches to the designs to further improve performance, and sometimes aesthetics. 

The Superlite is not a flashy looking custom rifle, but it delivers results.  It offers a time proven and tested design with top quality finishing techniques and materials.  The precisely machined aluminum receiver mounts a lightweight THM tension threaded barrel for excellent weight, balance and accuracy.  The over molded Hogue stock ensures a comfortable grip with positive traction.  Integral Picatinny rail is added for any optics desired.  Today, Ruger does not offer the 10/22 rifle platform in anything other than .22 Long Rifle.  For shooters of magnum loads, Volquartsen has become the go to for competitive shooters looking for a high end, semi-automatic rifle that performs.


CZ 455 American

CZ (Ceska Zbrojovka) has been the primary Czech arms manufacturer since 1919 and shortly after when it merged with Skoda Armaments Works.  Their dedication to quality continues to astound and be on par with the big game hunting Mausers, Kimber, Weatherby and even Dakotas.  For rimfire rifles, they offer similar quality in fit feel and finish without the large caliber price tag.  Quite simply, they make very beautiful, classy rifles. 

The company’s recent reintroduced their 455 model with tighter tolerances for even better accuracy and improved feel of action.  This Full Stock (FS) model has the Mannlicher pattern stock with full length “international” style forearm and drop in the comb.  It looks like a high end, quality rifle because it is a high end, quality rifle.  CZ eschews the laminates and the flashy modern add ons for a rifle design that has served well for over a century.  The traditional lines have not lost their appeal.  The comb drop offers more freedom of movement in acquiring a sight picture while on the move: it was favored by Safari hunters for that purpose, and while the recoil of big game rounds was more pronounced, the .17 HMR will not exactly be leaving any bruises.  For dealing with varmints on the move, the FS model is for the modern-day Alan Quartermaine. 


Savage Arms - B17 F Sporter

Savage’s B series of rifles were built upon the technological advances explored by the A- series of rifles.  This company is no stranger to bolt action rimfire rifles: they have been making them since the 1890s with the greatest number of production models between the 1910’s and 1960’s.  However, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in the late 1980’s and reduced its production to one model rifle.  Through skilled leadership it survived and by the 2010’s the company was back in the business and offering modern designed rifles in the new popular rimfire calibers like .17 HMR. 

To that tradition of accurate “plinkers,” the B17 features an ergonomic composite stock that has both a higher comb for use with optics and a more perpendicular pistol grip for shooter comfort.  Open iron sights are standard but the receiver is drilled and tapped for use with scope rings of the shooter’s preference.  The B17 also is the first .17HMR rifle from Savage with a fully flush fitting rotary magazine: offering the entire length of the forearm for supporting hand placement.  It sports a “modern” look on an old design that delivers both traditional and modern Savage features like a button stopped bolt and the Accu-Trigger on a futuristic looking stock.


Savage Arms - MARK II FV

The MKII bolt action rifle from Savage has remained the company’s main stay of the company’s rimfire bolt action line offering a standard base for custom rifle builds as well as several variants in .17HMR, .22WMR and .22 LR.  The pricing of these rifles makes them very popular for potential upgrades or for simply using out of the box. 

Savage’s AccuTrigger is standard to all rifles providing a crisp trigger break.  This model MKII shares the same magazines as Savage’s M93 series of rifles making it easy to provide for with a variance in magazine capacities for shooters living in states that demand less than 10 rounds.  Additionally, it is possible to customize through Boyds or other laminate stock companies.  As a tack driver out of the box, for the cost, Savage offers quite a bit, and with follow up options, there is even more to appeal to most senses.  One other point: Savage is one of the few rifle makers that regular produces bolt actions for left handed shooters.  While that does not represent an overwhelming proportion of the shooting population, it is nice that southpaws can find a product offered to them that has the same features enjoyed by right handers without paying a punitive premium for being a southpaw.


Henry Octagon-Frontier

Henry Octagon-Frontier

Lever action rifles in modern calibers is a hallmark of the Henry Rifle company.  The name conjures up images of the 1860 model rifles introduced in 1860 at the dawn of the US Civil War.  The action conjures up images of the wild west, even if the caliber is anything but.  Henry Repeating Arms, as a modern company has reincarnated the name with being the most well-made lever action rifles on the market.

 While Marlin and Rossi still offer replicas of the older designs, Henry actions are well known for being smooth and solidly built.  The Frontier models have octagonal barrels to add mass and dissipate heat.  3/8” dovetail rail on the receiver offers scope options.  The wonderful point of lever action rifles is that their rate of fire is notably faster than bolt action rifles.  Henry maintains a reputation for providing better than average accuracy out of a lever gun making it a contender for target shooters who feel limited by bolt actions.  Where the lever comes out on top, however, is in speed of cycling: getting follow up shots off without adjusting a sight picture or changing grip is what understandably appeals to many shooters.


Winchester 1885 Hunter Rimfire

In a true example of something old being new again, Winchester offers the Model 1885 in an unashamed retro falling block action.  Single shot precision shooting was once as popular and status claiming as any of the modern-day sports.  Far from being an activity that was politically polarizing, target shooting competitions and activities were held in publicly accessible parks and observed by all members of the public.  It was a simpler time.

The 1885 utilizes what was and remains one of the most accurate single shot actions in the world.  It is in direct opposite of being able to get off as many shots as possible and belongs to the realm of shooting philosophy of everything riding on just the one shot.  Made with premium grain wood and all metal surfaces brought to a high polished blue there is no denying that it is a beautiful rifle, even a work of industrial age art.  The price reflects craftmanship rather than technological innovation.  This Winchester proudly represents a time when shooting was a sport that relied on personal skill.  It demands a shooter that knows this.


What is Best .17HMR Rifle for YOU

Deciding which .17HMR to purchase is, as with all firearms purchases, a personal decision and needs be done based on the individual’s tastes as well as focus or intent.  From a purely competitive edge, the Volquartsen and Winchester are rifles that are meant for competitions but obviously very different types.  Both offer premium accuracy (as well as premium price tags) but the 1885 is a single shot while the Superlite is a semi auto.  The former is going to be a let down in timed matches, but in a single shot, iron sight match, the Volquartsen comes with a lot of features that will not be of any use.  Even among samplings of the same caliber, choosing the right tool for the specific job is important.

The Volquartsen’s semi-automatic action also puts it against one other rifle: Savage’s A17.  While the Superlite clearly has more custom features it also has custom feature pricing.  Savage is an accurate rifle out of the box, with a Accu-trigger and like the Superlite, has established a reputation of functional dependability.  It is not a custom rifle – though there is a stock option that makes it look like one in the laminate variant – and will never be a custom rifle as it is.  Yet if semi auto action is desired in a .17HMR caliber rifle, and price is a concern, there is really nothing in the A17 that is bad.  There are cheaper quality rifles, but none that have worked as reliably firing as fast as the trigger can be pulled. 

If semi-automatic action is not an option, either by legislation or other rules, but speed is important, the Browning T-Bolt and Henry lever action offer the fastest cycling of a manual action.  Both are also aesthetically pleasing with quality finished wood and well-polished metal surfaces.  For quality and maintaining value, the Browning may have a slight edge, though the Henry is no slouch.  For reloading in a rush, the Browning clearly jumps to the head of the class with its detachable magazine against Henry’s front end loading tube magazine.  Where the lever gun catches up is probably in price: it typically does not fetch the dollars the Browning demands, yet it offers a shooting experience and look of arguably equal value.

What remains are two more Savages, two CZs and a Ruger: the bolt actions. 

The B22 and MKII are the two black rifles.  So far, the B22 does not have a lot of aftermarket options besides optics: it is what it is and offers a nice out of the box experience.  From a practical standpoint, what else is needed?  The B22 may be best seen as an entry rifle, not only from a price standpoint but also from an introductory and bare necessities point of view: it delivers reliable performance without the need to be tricked out.  In essence, it is probably the rifle that is most loyal and consistent to its roots of being a tool for target shooting and dealing with varmints and pests, manufactured with an attention to modern production methods.

The MKII and the Ruger American offer quality features: free floating barrels, accurized trigger systems, optional optics and variants with different stocks and barrel types.  The Ruger, arguably, has better lines, the Savage offers lefties a chance to shoot comfortably.  To date, the Savage also has more aftermarket options and may typically be a bit better on the pricing end for base models.  From most objective perspectives, they both perform very well with supporters swearing that theirs is still just a bit more accurate than the other: the choice between these two remains a personal one.

Leaving the last two CZ to compare to each other is a bit unfair as they are virtually the same rifle: the FS has lines that consumers either love or hate while the combo runs the risk of pricing itself more with the Volquartsen or Winchester 1885 while still being a [very very nice] service rifle.  As far as aftermarket upgrades, there really are none.  CZ offers the patented scope rings necessary for adding optics, but there are not a lot of stock replacements out there because the CZ’s are marketed to a different crowd: the people that do not hot rod their rifles into statements of personal identity.  The CZs are like the Winchester 1885 in that regard: they are tools made to put tiny little holes into targets. 

Perhaps comparing the Full Stock rifle against a laminated American or MKII is fairer: bolt action rifles with good triggers decent accuracy and very good reputations.  At that point it becomes an issue of aesthetics and brand loyalty.  In other words, nothing objective.  The combo rifle, however, offers some unique features for its bump in price: versatility that none of the others can touch.  To shooters who simply get another rifle in the caliber they decide they want to shoot, this feature may be a bit lost.  For shooters that are more exclusive, even monogamous, in their sport – either because of personal inclination of legislative restriction – the combo offers something almost beyond measure: versatility and consistent performance in multiple calibers.

There have been many small caliber wild cat rimfire rounds since the commercial success of the .22 LR in 1887.  Many have fizzled out while briefly answering the needs and desires of their designers.  The .17 Hornady Magnum, however, is proving commercially and practically resilient and more arms makers are investing their resources in providing firearms to fully explore and maintain it in the years to come.

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